As we say hello to 2021 and goodbye (and good riddance) to 2020, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my favorite books of the year. Normally I would share a top 10, but since I read over 200 books last year and “20 in 2020” has a nice ring to it, I decided to share my top 10% instead!
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (review coming soon)
Wicked trilogy by Jennifer L. Armentrout (review coming soon)
I read so many fantastic books this year! It was a challenge to narrow it down to just 20, and as you can see I sometimes cheated by combining series, and I couldn’t resist shouting out some other great books I thoroughly enjoyed this year! Here’s hoping 2021 takes me on another amazing reading journey!
‘Tis the season for giving! A few weeks ago I shared my Gift Guide for Book Lovers with lots of bookish accessories and merch to gift the readers in your life (or yourself!). Now I’m sharing a list of books to help you find the gift for EVERYONE in your life: avid readers, occasional readers, or even nonreaders you want to hook. These are some of my favorite recommendations in every genre (with a bonus fantasy because it’s my favorite), so you should be able to find the perfect gift!
DYSTOPIAN Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This near-futuristic dystopian sci-fi is perfect for fans of video games, adventure, and ’80s pop culture. Review
FANTASY A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
This Beauty and the Beast retelling full of fae, romance, and action has hooked many non-fantasy readers on the genre. Review
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
This enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance features political scheming, gray morality, imaginative world building, and an uncomplicated magic system. Review
HISTORICAL/LITERARY FICTION The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This family drama poignantly addresses issues of race, identify, gender, sexuality, family, destiny, and the consequences of choice while following multiple generations of Vignes women from the ’60s through the ’90s. Review
HORROR Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
An isolated mansion, an incestuous family, and a fungus infestation create the perfect recipe for an atmospheric and unsettling gothic horror. Review
MYSTERY The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
This suspensful mystery features parallel timelines, strong women, and a paranormal presence. Review
PARANORMAL Crave by Tracy Wolff
Crave takes all the tropes from popular YA paranormal romance series and combines them in delightful, cheesy, and utterly addicting goodness. Review
ROMANCE Beach Read by Emily Henry
This contemporary romance is hilarious and heartfelt, but it also involves some serious topics that make it feel more grounded than other rom-coms. Review
SCIENCE FICTION Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
This is one of my absolute favorite books and it is incredibly underrated. With space, adventure, war, romance, technology, and humanity, what’s not to love? Review
THRILLER He Started It by Samantha Downing
The twists and turns when siblings embark on a road trip from hell in order to earn their grandfather’s inheritance will absolutely blow your mind. Review
VERSE Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
This YA novel in verse beautifully tells the story of two girls who discover they are sisters after their father dies in a plane crash. Review
MEMOIR Becoming by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is so much more than just a first lady. Her memoir is inspiring, relatable, compassionate, and emotional. Review
Are you giving books to anyone on your list this year? What books are you planning to gift?
Looking for a gift for a friend or loved one who has already read everything? Luckily, there are plenty of great gifts the readers in your life will love besides actual books! *UPDATED FOR CYBER WEEK*
1. Reading Log Journal
This is the perfect gift to help a book lover keep track of all the books they read in a year and plan reviews! I loved the format of this reading log I used for the first 100 books I read this year. When I filled it up I decided to try a different book review, but I wish I had bought another one of these! This journal is available with a variety of cover art, and it’s at a great price!
Book sleeves are a total game changer for travel or simply taking a book with you wherever you go. Like a giant padded pocket, book sleeves protect your books from damage on the go so you can throw a book in your bag without worrying about bent pages, and they come in so many cute colors and patterns! So many talented artists sell book sleeves on Etsy, but I’ll link some of my favorite shops.
Clip on book lights have come a long way since the ones I used as a kid that ran on hard-to-replace batteries and lightbulbs. My current book light is rechargeable with a USB cord and has three brightness settings! Perfect for reading in bed without having to leave all the lights on.
This is on my Christmas wishlist this year. The BookBone is a weighted rubber bookmark that holds book pages open hands free. Pick one in your book lover’s favorite color to make reading so much easier!
The NOVELOGUE is an interactive, scratch-off poster that is part reading log, part bucket list, part artwork. It features 100 epic reads of a lifetime covered in gold foil that can be scratched off after you’ve read the book! Mine looks amazing hanging on my wall with magnetic frames, and it will encourage me to read more classic and popular books so I can reveal another book cover!
NOVELOGUE (on sale for $29.90 from Been There Done That)
6. Book Cart
A book cart is a perfect solution for overflowing bookshelves. I use mine to organize my unread books, and it’s a great focal point in my living room since my bookshelves are out of sight. I get asked about my lattice book cart every time I post a picture of it on Instagram, but there are more affordable options out there without the pattern.
Save your reader friends from using receipts, gum wrappers, clothing tags, sticky notes, and whatever else they can find to save their place in a book! I always appreciate an actual, beautiful bookmark. There are so many cute bookmark shops, so I’ll share a few of my favorites and recommendations from my followers.
Impress a reader in your life with a piece of clothings that reps their favorite book or their love of books in general. I have purchased bookish t-shirts, sweatshirts, and baseball caps, and I love the unique designs that I can find on Etsy and other bookish shops. I’ll share a few recommendations from me and my followers.
There’s nothing a reader loves more than to curl up with a good book and their favorite drink, whether its coffee, tea, water, or wine. Brown Paper Bunny sells the cutest book stack coffee mugs (I have two), and Enchanted Fandom on Etsy sells a variety of drink vessels with book quotes and designs.
Another item going on my personal wishlist. I love to light a candle while I’m reading, and there are so many candlemakers who sell candles with scents inspired by characters. I haven’t yet bought one myself, but Wick & Jane and Wick & Fable candles come highly recommended. I’m planning to treat myself to one for the holidays this year!
Some of my favorite pieces of decor that I own are prints of character art or quotes from my favorite books! While larger prints can be pricy, smaller prints like 5×7 are very affordable.
BookishStuff (pictured; 5×7 mini prints $4.25; larger prints starting at $18.00; Cyber Week mystery bags $12.00) ForTheLoveOfBookShop (book page quote prints starting at $10.95)
An easy way to show off a love of books is by adding cute and affordable stickers to laptops, tablets, water bottles, book carts, and more! While several of the shops I shared above sell stickers, I am most excited for my order from BookWorkStickerCo to arrive!
I hope this gift guide is helpful for yourself and the readers in your life! Happy Holidays and happy shopping! Comment if you find my suggestions helpful or to share a favorite product that didn’t make it on my list!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! If you’re looking for some reading to get you into the mood, I’ve got you covered. Below are my top 5 Valentine’s recommendations from each of the following genres: romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and thrillers!
Top 5 Contemporary Romance
These are some of my favorite adorable rom-coms that make me feel all the feels!
1. Well Met by Jen de Luca
Enemies to lovers at a Renaissance Faire? Yes, please! This book kept me smiling, laughing, and crying the whole time.
2. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Another enemies to lovers! This time about sworn enemies who end up on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon trip to Hawaii after the bride & groom get food poisoning. Plenty of hilarious and heartbreaking moments in store.
3. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
One more enemies to lovers for you, this time between the First Son of the United States and the Prince of England! Their relationship was sooooo cute, and the story had me ridiculously invested in imaginary politics!
4. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
After Lina’s mother dies, she travels to Tuscany with her mother’s old journal to meet her father and learn about her past. There she finds love, gelato, and so much more. This book will have you laughing through your tears.
5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
After Lara Jean’s old love letter to Peter Kavinsky accidentally gets mailed (as well as letters to all her former crushes), they start fake dating to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. You will fall in love with Lara Jean as he juggles her family, friends, baking, crafting, fake relationship, and very real feelings.
Top 5 Science Fiction & Fantasy
If you prefer the romance to play out in the background to an epic adventure, these are the perfect Valentine’s Day books for you!
1. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) by Sarah J. Maas
RHYSAND. Need I say more? A Court of Thorns and Roses is good, but A Court of Mist and Fury is WHERE. IT’S. AT.
2. Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray
Abel is Earth’s most advanced mech. Noemi is a soldier fighting for freedom for the planet Genesis. THIS SERIES IS EVERYTHING, Y’ALL!
3. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
A witch and a witch hunter are forced into marriage. The juxtaposition leads to some truly hilarious moments, plus this book has an interesting magic system, a great cast of supporting characters, and life-or-death stakes.
4. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Romeo & Juliet, but R is a zombie.
5. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
This series is full of relationship goals! I adore all 4 main couples in this series of sci-fi fairy tale retellings.
Top 5 Thrillers
Would you rather read about dysfunctional, messed up, twisted couples? Here are some anti-romance domestic thrillers for you!
1. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
This is one of the most out-there thrillers I’ve ever read about a woman having an affair with a man and befriending his wife, but it’s so twisted and good. The ending made my jaw drop!
2. Verity by Colleen Hoover
This book is dark, creepy, and disturbing. A writer is hired to complete the works of successful novelist Verity Crawford, who has become incapacitated. While sorting through Verity’s notes, she begins to fall for the husband and discovers some dark truths about Verity herself.
3. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Jack and Grace’s marriage is perfect from the outside, but it’s a completely different story behind closed doors. This is super dark and twisted, but it’s a favorite.
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The model for modern domestic thrillers! When Amy goes missing, her husband Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance, but there’s more to this case than meets the eye.
5. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
If you thought Amy and Nick’s relationship in Gone Girl was messed up, wait til you see what this couple does for “date night.”
Have you read any of these? What are your recommendations for Valentine’s Day?